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Response to Barney Revelations

To help Who Is Carl Barney?  percolate through cyberspace I publicized it on several Objectivist discussion groups. Some people appreciated the article and were as surprised as I was at its revelations. Others had the attitude “so what?” and defended everything Barney had done that they could trouble themselves to read about.

One man on “Rebirth of Reason” was especially annoyed:

“Who gives a damn if Carl Barney was once a devotee of Scientology ... or anything else, given that he has since decided to support the ideas of Ayn Rand and now donates millions ( MILLIONS ! ) – where all we get from you are cheap attacks.”

Barney may have begun as a devotee of Scientology but he soon worked his way up to being a top manager in the Church of Scientology racket. He was rotten then and there is no reason to think he has changed, quite the contrary.

The irate poster, mesmerized by Barney’s millions, thinks that giving money to the so-called Ayn Rand Institute actually supports Ayn Rand’s ideas when by and large it does just the opposite. The “Rand Institute” is anti-Rand, just another cultural leftist, hate historic America interest group. The point of ARI Watch is to point it out.  (At no charge – it doesn’t get any cheaper, LOL.)

But suppose ARI were what it purports to be. How would donating to a good cause make Barney’s history and his current affairs of no concern to us? The irate poster’s attitude is best illustrated by an old song from 1907. Each stanza describes an unscrupulous man, ending with the refrain:  “But he go-es to church on Sun-day so they say that he’s an hon-est man.”

The same poster lays into yours truly:

“I find your constant attacks on ARI to be disgusting. Clearly this is your obsession and seems to me to be pathological.”

In other words, it is not the people associated with ARI who are disgusting and pathological it is me for pointing out certain facts about them. He then says that ARI Watch is poorly researched (“yellow journalism”). Actually the degree of documented detail on ARI Watch is one of its strong points.  As for obsession, is a physician obsessed with malaria and broken bones?

The Barney article received a few positive responses on the discussion group “Objectivist Living.” One poster, a man of few words, replied:


Being an optimist I assume the object of this monomorphemic response was the content of the article rather than my prose. Another poster was more articulate:

“My God !

“That is one of the most damning articles on ARI that I have ever read.”

There were a few positive responses on “SOLO” (“Sense of Life Objectivists”) too. For example:

“This is scandalous, and ought to be the thing that brings these ... bastards who’ve hijacked Objectivism down. It needs the widest possible exposure ...”

Perhaps what these people sense is that Barney’s Scientology career reveals corruption so entrenched that only a naïf would think it doesn’t still exist, and that his hypocrisy is part and parcel with the Ayn Rand Institute.

Three down and one to go, “Objectivism Online.” The moderators of that discussion group are so pro-ARI it might as well be called Ortho-Objectivists. Because of earlier posts I had made I was under moderation and any new submissions I made would have to be approved before they got posted.  Mentioning “Who Is Carl Barney?” was out of the question so I started by citing the New York Times interview article that says Barney dabbled briefly in Scientology. Then as people responded I introduced appropriate material that I had discovered in the course of writing “Who Is Carl Barney?”

Oddly enough no one questioned the common identity of the ARI Barney and the Co$ Barney, something I had worried about until I found photographic proof.

Here are my posts improved by subsequent editing, such as restoring parts I’d originally left out to avoid having the post rejected, along with some indication of the replies. Abbreviations in the quoted parts of replies have been silently expanded, spelling mistakes silently corrected. Insubstantial posts are omitted. Comments in brackets are mine.

To  everyone,

The New York Times article  “An Ayn Rand Acolyte Selling Students a Self-Made Dream”  says that Carl Barney  “admits with some embarrassment”  of  “dabbling briefly ... in Scientology.”  Do you think it matters?

Respondent A replies that it doesn’t. He has a friend who was a fundamentalist Christian for decades before becoming an Objectivist.  “He has a certain background he can draw on, that matters, in a sense.”  It wouldn’t be right to hold his Christian past against him.  “You could even say it’s to his credit.”

To  Respondent A,

You make an analogy between your friend and Barney, and between Christianity and Scientology. You seem to think Barney ought to be admired for overcoming his Scientology past.

L. Ron Hubbard may have been a crackpot but he knew what he was doing. Scientology is a conscious, willful fraud. It has little to nothing in common with Christianity.

Christianity helped forge Western Civilization. Scientology has produced nothing of value, no paintings, music, architecture, nothing.

A Christian, even a pastor or priest, might well be sincere. A “reverend” in the Church of Scientology is a crook and can be reformed only inversely to his crookedness. The reformation of a COS executive would be a major undertaking.

So we should ask:  Was Carl Barney a mere student of Scientology who quickly dropped it, or did he climb to an executive position in the “Church of Scientology?”  If the latter, how long did he stay? Why did he leave?  In short, is he victim or perpetrator?

Respondent C replies:  “Oh My God !  There’s this constant danger of being exposed by ex-scientologists.” along with 174 more words of mockery.

Respondent A points out that “dabbling briefly ... in Scientology” is only the NYT reporter’s “characterization of whatever Barney said,” though there is a “good chance” it is an accurate one.  Assuming it is accurate, Barney is “probably embarrassed by [his Scientology past] and wants to minimize it. Or wants to forestall readers from associating his success with his time in Scientology. [In other words, Barney lied because he didn’t want people to think he was a success because he had been a Scientologist !  Such a considerate man.] There are plenty more or less innocent explanations.”  It is “rather like a person who attended seminary and was ordained a priest in their twenties, dropped out when they stopped believing in God, and then 40 years later said, ‘yeah, I once dabbled in Catholicism’. ... I just don’t see any big deal here.”

[Respondent A doubts the veracity of the NYT reporter. He continues to maintain that Scientology is on a par with Christianity. He doesn’t mind Barney lying if indeed Barney even did lie. He doesn’t seem to realize that Barney was a COS executive for nine years until getting thrown out around the age of 38. Later, as we shall see, it won’t make any difference to him.]

Respondent B points out that the NYT article was written almost a year ago. He wonders why I bring up the subject now and “what ... is so relevant about it.”

Respondent D mocks Christianity and Christ.  “I guess he was okay for his time, but, these days, Penn and Teller would make him look like an amateur.” etc. 110 words of mockery.

[Apparently this is supposed to make Scientology, and consequently Barney, look better.]

To  Respondent A,

Barney led the NYT reporter to believe that he had only dabbled briefly in Scientology. Is it true, that is, did he only dabble briefly? What is wanting in your reply is an investigation into Barney’s actual involvement in Scientology. An Internet search turns up a lot of material. On the Ex Scientology Message Board you learn that Barney was studying Scientology long before he moved to California. On Operation Clambake, an anti-Scientology website, you learn that in the 1970s he owned – as franchises – several Scientology “missions” in California. Furthermore he didn’t leave voluntarily; Hubbard threw him out in 1979. Barney would have been about 38 years old.

So when Barney said – led the NYT reporter to believe if you want – that he had only dabbled briefly in Scientology he wasn’t minimizing his association with the Church of Scientology, he was telling a whopper of a lie.

You can also find lawsuits against Barney initiated by former employees of his schools. They haven’t been adjudicated yet. If the allegations are true then even setting aside Barney’s Church of Scientology past he’s not someone we want going about calling himself an Objectivist.

Respondent B writes:  A NYT reporter is capable of doing the required investigation of Barney. ¶ She “tossed out some lemons here. Craig Biddle made some lemonade out of them.” Besides, the NYT article is a year old. ¶ “Who is the ‘we’ you are referring to here?” ¶ You introduce irrelevant detail to quibble over.

To  Respondent B,

Apparently the NYT reporter took Barney at his word and didn’t look into the extent of his involvement in Scientology.

Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard wrote a critical and tendentious review of the NYT article. He doesn’t address Barney’s Scientology past; perhaps, like the reporter, he’s unaware of it. In any case his focus was on the lawsuits involving Barney’s schools. I’m sympathetic to objections to government regulation but if a person is going to accept X’s money, X’s oversight is what it comes with, including when X is government. Biddle seems to think Baney should get the money Scot-free.

Furthermore Biddle fails to address the other claims against Barney that have nothing to do with the government, described in the Brooks-Wride-U.S. Complaint and the Colorado Complaint. Assuming the claims are true then in some respects Barney was running his schools like he ran his COS “missions” of yesteryear.

I read the NYT article only a week ago. Just because it is 11 months old doesn’t make it disappear or make it uninteresting.

You object to my saying that Barney “is not someone we want going about calling himself an Objectivist.”  Indeed, I made the mistake of assuming we were of like mind on this subject. If you have no problem with Barney calling himself an Objectivist I cannot say you do.

I do claim, however, that associating with Barney is no way to promote Objectivism.

Respondent C says that my original post is vacuous.

Respondent A writes:  “... we don’t know that Barney led the reporter to believe that [he dabbled briefly in Scientology]. We don’t have access to an interview transcript. And if he did, we can only speculate about his motives. ¶ This is an awfully weak foundation to build a critique of someone’s present character on.”

To  Respondent A,

I assume the New York Times reporter, Patricia Cohen, knows her job. I assume she actually did see and talk to Barney, that her quotes are faithful and not made up, that her paraphrases are accurate, that the photos are of Barney and not some impostor.

If she provided a transcript of the interview would you suggest that it might be phony? My point is that at some point we have to trust Patricia Cohen. Why not begin with her being an honest, competent reporter who has given us a faithful account of an actual interview?

There’s a distinction between “Cohen infers” and “Barney implies” to be sure. In effect Cohen said (not quoting anybody) “Barney implied that he dabbled briefly in COS,” yet she can in truth say only “I inferred from what Barney said that he dabbled briefly in COS.” This infer-imply distinction goes for anything any reporter anywhere can say about any interview. You’re splitting hairs like a criminal defense lawyer, with Barney as your defendant and Cohen as a witness for the prosecution.

Finally, we don’t need Cohen to tell us about Barney’s career in Scientology, it’s all over the Internet. Search on “carl barney scientology” without the quotes, or “who is carl barney” with or without.  Casting aspersions on Cohen is a red herring.

Not much speculation is necessary about Barney’s motive for saying to Cohen that, in so many words, he only dabbled briefly in the COS. He lied probably because his true COS history makes him look bad, and it looks bad because it is bad.

He told Cohen that in the 1970s he was investing in real estate. Yet throughout the 1970s he was running COS missions. The additional money he earned in real estate enabled him to invest in for-profit colleges. Did he get the money to invest in real estate from running COS missions? An investigative reporter ought to look into it. If true that’s another connection between his COS past and his current business.

The foundation for criticizing Barney’s character consists of two concrete slabs. One slab is his COS past, the other is his subsequent for-profit college career. About the second, from 2002 to 2013 Barney’s schools received over $660,000,000 from the federal government, at least 90% of his revenue. The Brooks-Wride-U.S. Complaint against Barney (see a previous post) alleges that this money was obtained fraudulently – the sections “Factual Allegations” & “Claims for Relief” go into detail. The alleged fraud includes common law fraud as well as violating federal regulations, most of which are reasonable taking for granted federal subsidy of colleges in the first place. In fact the government regulations are not strong enough. (90% of revenue from the government is ridiculous. And if the lawsuits are true even that wasn’t enough for Barney.)

Respondent B writes:  “The more I read of [you] the more I wonder about what axe you have to grind with Carl Barney. If Barney’s schools received over $660 million from the federal government, where does the fraudulence lie? ... What is your obsession with Carl Barney here ...?”

To  Respondent B,

The alleged fraud is in how Barney obtained the .66 billion, as explained for example in the Complaints. I’ll copy part of the Idaho District Court’s summary of the Brooks-Wride-U.S. Complaint at the end of this post.

You characterize my interest in Barney as “obsession.” Here is why we – you and I – ought to be interested in Barney. Objectivists – at least those in the Ayn Rand Institute orbit – are associating Objectivism with a man who  (1) was a top manager for about nine years in a cult racket calling itself the “Church of Scientology,”  (2) left only because he was thrown out, around the age of 38,  (3) now lies about it,  (4) got rich – several hundreds of millions of dollars rich – from receiving government funds (90% or more of his revenue),  (5) while crowing about the virtues of capitalism,  (6) obtained the government funds – if the Complaint allegations hold up in court – by fraud,  (7) then lectures us on Objectivist Ethics.

His for-profit schools’ profit margin is extraordinarily high; a large chunk of the .66 billion went into his pocket. The virtue of selfishness? His behavior gives a meaning to “selfishness” that Objectivists have been fighting since day one.

The following is from the Idaho District Court’s summary of the Brooks-Wride-U.S. Complaint against Barney et al:
“Relators Katie Brooks and Nannette Wride worked as admissions consultants at defendant Stevens-Henager’s Orem, Utah campus during 2009 to 2011. They say that the school paid them bonuses for enrolling students – in violation of the incentive-compensation ban. Relators further allege that this practice was implemented at all defendants’ schools, not just at the Orem campus where they worked.
“Relators also allege two other types of misconduct. First, they allege that the schools falsely certified compliance with the so-called ‘90-10 rule’. This rule requires for-profit schools to obtain at least 10% of their revenue from non-government sources. [In other words, they claim over 90% of Barney’s revenue came from the government.] ... Second, relators allege that the schools gave false information about faculty qualifications, attendance-taking practices, and student academic performance to an accrediting body. ... According to relators, the Department of Education then relied on the schools’ accreditation to determine that they were eligible to participate in Title IV [government backed loans] programs.”

Respondent B says “It seems that Carl Barney was simply trying to adhere to the ‘letter of the law’ and cut it too close. ... The Church of Scientology angle still seems like an incidental angle of opportunity to attempt to crucify Carl Barney here. ... the tree of reason cannot thrive for long in the swamps of irrationality. You haven’t actually provided a clear cut reason for his having been excommunicated from the Church of Scientology.”

To  Respondent B,

I’m not trying to “crucify” Barney any more than I am “obsessed” with him. This discussion is about Barney, not me, and the arguments don’t depend on who is making them.

About Barney’s excommunication from the Church of Scientology:  L. Ron Hubbard told mission staff he’d been skimming COS funds. Even if Hubbard falsely accused Barney the salient point is that Barney did not leave the COS voluntarily. While busily roping in suckers for “Auditing” so they could become “Clear” – price $6,000 (they don’t call it Church of $cientology for nothing) – he was suddenly expelled.

You haven’t addressed the Complaint I pointed out. For example you ignored the allegation that upper management of Barney’s schools knowingly misrepresented teachers’ qualifications, including (this is in the Complaint but not the summary) teachers in medical fields. Or was that from  “trying to adhere to the ‘letter of the law’ ” too?

If the Complaint is true then what you call “trying to adhere to the ‘letter of the law’ ”  others would call fraud and greed for the unearned.  This is a fellow Objectivist ?

Respondent A concedes that Scientology is a scam but who cares how Barney got booted out, he discovered Rand and  “(sitting on his ill-gotten pile) identif[ies] with Wynand when he [Wynand] calls his earnings from the Banner the ‘financial fertilizer’ to build a great building with Roark. Putting two and two together, he [Barney] launches into private colleges for his next venture.” ¶ “... student loans aren’t exactly money from the Government, they are how the customers get the money to pay. ... If Government weren’t involved (via guarantees, special tax treatment, and a special exemption from bankruptcy discharge) there would be a private alternative. ¶ My verdict: not convinced.”

To  Respondent A,

Barney just gets better and better. Not only is he admirable for overcoming his Scientology past (which gives him a certain background he can draw on, LOL), he’s comparable to Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead !

It’s ridiculous.  “Financial fertilizer” for what?  Where is the Howard Roark?  (Surely not Yaron Brook, LOL.)  I’ll let the facts already adumbrated speak for themselves because it looks like nothing more I can say will convince Ortho-Objectivists that Barney and his millions ought to be shown the door.

However I want to correct an economic fallacy of Respondent A.  “If Government weren’t involved ... there would be a private alternative.” – as if to say the government wasn’t responsible for Barney’s outsized profit, that the existence of government grants and government backed loans didn’t put money in his pocket hugely over and above the money he would have gotten if only private banks had been available.

The grants part is obvious – banks don’t give money away – but what about government loans? Unlike with bank loans:  (1) The government makes it possible for a non-creditworthy person to obtain a loan. (2) The government subsidizes much of the interest.  (3) The government guarantees the loan, meaning it suffers the loss if the person defaults.  In each case the result is more students in Barney’s schools and extra money in his pockets.

The money that students borrow from the government to give to Barney belongs to Barney. He then runs his schools on part of this revenue. Eventually the students must earn the full amount of the loan (plus interest) and give it to the government. The loan risk is assumed by the government. Barney keeps the money whether the student defaults or not.  This accounts for Barney’s admission policy. According to the Complaints his schools recruit anyone with a heartbeat.

Here is Barney as quoted in Patricia Cohen’s NYT interview article:
“We don’t select the best. We take who comes there and do the best we can.”
Later, regarding dropouts and debtors:
“I’m really sad about that, but I’m not guilty. We do everything to help them graduate.”
If the aforementioned Complaints are true, yes, like faking attendance records and exam scores – to keep the federal money rolling in, over 90% of his revenue. Then Barney compares his Denver school’s on-time graduation rate of 34 percent with the local community college’s 10 percent. I don’t believe it. Many community college students, probably most, take courses “a la carte” – look at such schools’ advertising – and aren’t working toward a degree.

Now quoting Patricia Cohen:
“What Mr. Barney said he refused to accept was guilt that was not deserved. In the Rand worldview, that would be ‘unearned guilt’ and akin to a sin. A rich man should not feel guilt for hard-earned wealth, he said ...”
Despite it all Barney has a high opinion of himself.

Now here is Barney on Michael “Dr.” Hurd’s website telling us how virtuous he is:
“As to compensating employees: Justice in business, as you know, is crucial – one of its highest virtues and values. I joyfully practice justice in my company. My executives and staff do so many great things every day for the company and indirectly for me, and I’m so appreciative of it that I’m as generous as I can be with them. For instance, I buy all my staff and executives thoughtful Christmas gifts along with a ‘handwritten’ letter of appreciation and thanks – this is a joyous practice of justice.”
He goes on to say that he gave millions in bonuses to executives for growing his schools (i.e. increasing enrollment) even though he didn’t have to. You’ll find the whole fulsome thing in Hurd’s article “The Massively Underappreciated Virtue of Egoism in Business” (October 4, 2015).

Barney wrote an editorial for Career Education Review, January 6, 2017, claiming that private career colleges are superior to community colleges. He titled his article  “Moral Certainty vs. Guilt.”

Respondent E writes (ellipsis his):
“There is a chance Mr. Blarney was and is a con artist who can play the part necessary to defraud others of their money while [they are] blinded by the optimism and evasions that go with faith or a zealous dream.
“He could have, after his experience with Scientology, latched onto Objectivism, thinking incorrectly that it is also a kind of cult with a niche market ripe for his predation.
“He could have embarked on a mission to bilk the naiveté [sic] of the Objectivist masses, studied in earnest all Rand wrote and said, and while internally unmoved, clothed himself in the raiment of a man of rational self-interest, with the ideas and virtues of a true Objectivist.
“He could have ...
“He also could have, as [Respondent A] points out, actually become an Objectivist, and is not (or even perhaps never was) a con artist.
“All we can go on for now is perception and evidence. It is not likely anything outside of a full investigation would be able to decide this. However, a potential school attendee or Objectivist organization might still want to better assess the ‘risk’ that they are dealing with a fraud.”

[In my reply I will point out that Respondent E’s first “he could have” is farfetched – it makes Respondent A’s position look reasonable in conrtrast.  I will also disagree with (paraphrasing) “it is possible Barney never was a con man.”]

Then Respondent E suggests that we investigate and then decide.  1. Does Barney today sound like he understands the theory of Objectivism? Do his actions, in particular how he runs his schools, accord with Objectivist values?  2. Weigh the evidence and assess the likelihood that Barney is on the up and up “or that he is in fact pulling a fast one on us all.”  3. Then decide what to do. Go or don’t go to his schools, alert ARI or remain silent, etc.

To  Respondent E,

Your first suggested explanation of Barney’s behavior is rather farfetched. I gather the idea is that Barney might have expected – eventually – to somehow extract money from ARI, that is, out of its followers. In this scenario his donating millions to ARI over the last ten years or so was priming the pump – giving a little to get a lot. But it’s hard to imagine how it – recouping 20 million dollars and then getting more – would work.

Consider an alternate explanation. Some readers of Rand’s novels confuse her idea of selfishness with a justification for lording it over other people.  Barney might be such a lord of the manor person. He might think Rand’s selfishness means he can with moral impunity walk over anyone. He is innocent, perpetually innocent. All businessmen are good no matter what they do. All businessmen are victims.

If true then he isn’t pulling a fast one so much as using Rand to excuse himself. He is attracted to a feeling of victimhood.  Instead of conscious deception of others his is an unconscious deception of Carl Barney; he must be an honest man, honest by Objectvist standards.

In your other “could have” you write that, echoing Respondent A, perhaps “[Barney] ... is not (or even perhaps never was) a con artist.”  Surely the parenthetical remark is mistaken. By sometime in 1970 Barney was running five Scientology “missions” (four in Los Angeles, one in San Diego). And he didn’t resign, he was kicked out in 1979 when he was 38 years old give or take a year, no spring chicken.

He might have begun innocently enough (Melbourne in the mid 1960s) but by the time he was running COS “missions” he had turned con man. Read any exposé of Scientology to see what an extraordinarily crooked operation it is – today and even more so in L. Ron Hubbard’s time. There is no way, absolutely none at all, that Barney was not a conscious, well-aware actor in the “Church of Scientology” racket.

Given that he was a con man then makes it all the more probable that he is a con man now – only in a different business and with the grotesque twist that he thinks he can justify what he does by parroting Ayn Rand about selfishness and unearned guilt.

Quoting again Patricia Cohen, NYT, after interviewing Barney:
“What Mr. Barney said he refused to accept was guilt that was not deserved. In the Rand worldview, that would be ‘unearned guilt’ and akin to a sin. A rich man should not feel guilt for hard-earned wealth, he said ...”
Problem is, Barney didn’t earn his wealth honestly and he very much earned his guilt. What the guilty Barney gets out of – his crazy understanding of – Objectivism is a sense of innocence, bogus though it be. Associating with ARI is his way of both reinforcing this innocence and making it public.

Iago, rubbing his hands with glee at his own iniquity, is strictly a work of Shakespeare’s imagination.  In real life evil is always self-righteous.  You cannot tell the heroes from the villains by the emotional noises they make.

To  Respondent E,

About your suggested investigation and course of action:  1. (a) No, Barney does not understand Objectivism, he sounds like a parrot.  (b) If what the NYT reports is true, set aside the lawsuits, Barney doesn’t run his schools in accordance with Objectivist values.  2. I’ve already explained why I think Barney is not “pulling a fast one” in the sense you mean.  3. Alerting ARI about all this is futile. ARI and Barney deserve one another.

Respondent E says he doesn’t know how the Scientology “hierarchy of fraud” works, that maybe Barney was a victim. “He attained a certain level ... what that really means in terms of blameworthiness is not clear to me without the facts. He may have himself still been a victim slowly sliding towards being a perpetrator on the momentum of his own evasions at the time.”

To  Respondent E,

“[Barney] may have himself still been a victim slowly sliding towards being a perpetrator on the momentum of his own evasions at the time.”

Momentum of his own evasions  may well describe what happened with Barney but it hardly excuses him. Evasion in itself is, to use your word, blameworthy.

You point out that there can be differing levels of complicity. One indication of Barney’s level is that while he managed the COS missions in Los Angeles and San Diego, Hubbard’s protégé, David Miscavige, managed the ones in San Francisco. Mission management was a high level position within the COS.

Furthermore, how could Barney not know what was going on? He managed his COS missions for nine years. Only if he had been a low-grade moron could he have been unaware of what he was doing. Add in the fact that he was ousted from his high position rather than leaving the COS of his own initiative, it is absurd to claim “maybe he was a victim.”

Rand once said:  “Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent.”  Barney doesn’t deserve one bit of pity. What of the people he defrauded by managing a significant part of the COS apparatus? Where is the concern for them, the true victims?

We cannot be sure Barney’s work at the “Church of Scientology” wasn’t innocent? Yet all one has to do is point out the history above. He was a grown man. He was not a zombie or puppet. Only by a perverse intellectual contortion can one avoid holding Barney responsible for his past actions and evasions.

What of the Barney of today? To go from a honcho of the COS racket to an honest businessman is quite a switch in character. If it ever occurred it must have taken time and soul searching, not to mention restitution. Yet what does he tell the NYT ?  He feels some embarrassment about dabbling briefly in Scientology !  He’s still evading. No unearned guilt for our Barney !

[At this point the moderator, Respondent B as it turns out, sends me a private message saying he will reject any further submissions I make to this discussion. There were two more posts, by Respondent A, which I’ll reply to here.]

Respondent A says that his scenario about Barney and Wynand is “an alternate narrative, and it’s probably ... the way Barney thinks of it. And it fits the facts very well.”

To  Respondent A

If that is the way Barney thinks of himself it only makes him more of a humbug than he already is. The scenario doesn’t fit the facts at all.  Was Gail Wynand ever the type to join the Moonies?  Do we find struggle and suffering in Barney’s biography?  Love of art?

Is Yaron Brook a Howard Roark or the opposite?  Is ARI the analog of great architecture or a junk heap?

Barney might like to see himself as tragic hero but in fact he is Orren Boyle villain, with the added twist of the hypocrisy the Ayn Rand Institute is known for.

Respondent A points out that Barney isn’t responsible for the way things are, he didn’t cause government grants and loans to colleges. ¶ “By the way, I am curious how you know that Barney would be less successful under a different system. You’ve perhaps run a simulation in an alternate universe?”

To  Respondent A

No one said Barney created government grants and guaranteed loans. What I do say is that he should behave honestly interacting with the government when it gives him money, with students when they enroll, and with the public when a reporter asks him a question.

Who knows whether Barney could have acquired a fortune absent initial assistance from the COS or other racket and absent government grants and guaranteed loans. I already explained how government loans favored Barney compared with private loans.

Below are some student reviews of Stevens-Henager College. As usual with mass reviews, who will review the reviewers? Are they believable? Some of the positive reviews are too good to be true, so slick they read like public relations plants, or they blanket-condemn the character of negative reviewers (“can’t take responsibility for their own actions” etc.).  Complaints include:  (1) Barney’s schools admit anyone, and they have an extremely aggressive recruitment policy so that even homeless have been signed up when they could get a government loan.  (2) Recruiters telling prospective students that other schools will accept the credits they earn at Barney’s schools only to find out later that they don’t.  (3) Despite promises by recruiters students discovering that a degree from Barney’s school is not respected by employers.  (4) Several students report faculty helping backward students cheat to pass exams.  (5) Complaints about the quality of the courses.
Some reviews of CollegeAmerica:
Government grants and loans make the abuse described above possible. The real problem is not private schools but government financing of private schools.

That concludes our tour of the extant self-described Objectivist discussion groups.  ARI supporters twist and turn trying to whitewash one of their own.